- Exercise & Fitness
Workout Mistakes Women Make and How to Lose the Weight for Good
Are you stuck on a weight loss plateau? Are you struggling to lose weight? Do you wonder why you still don't look great in a swimsuit, even though you've lost a lot of weight? The answer to your problems could be as simple as changing up your workout routine. Unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss, many women are under the assumption that you should do lots of cardio to burn fat. For many women, that's all they do. This is but one of the many workout myths that can keep you from reaching your weight loss goals. Read on for workout tips that will actually get results.
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Women's Workout Myths that Keep You Fat
Sorry to use the 'F' word but even if you're a size 4 or 6, you can still have a high body fat percentage and this will keep you from looking your best. If you want to look great in a swimsuit and feel healthy and strong, you're going to need to change how you think about working out. These common workout myths among women are preventing us from reaching our goals.
- To lose weight I should do lots of cardio: Cardio has long been the staple of many women's workout routines. The theory is that in order to burn fat, you need to burn calories and to do that, cardio is the top choice. However, there are many reasons why this may backfire. First, your body will eventually adapt to your workouts. When this happens, your metabolism could actually slow down as your body tries to conserve energy. Second, long cardio sessions can break down muscle mass. Muscle mass is important because it requires more energy to maintain, leading to higher levels of calorie burning, even at rest. It also prevents that saggy, soft look that we want to avoid. Finally, long cardio sessions can be boring and might lead to giving up on your fitness routine. To fix this problem, you need to do resistance training three to four times a week to build and maintain your muscle mass. Cardio, of specific types, should be limited to two to three times a week.
- The cardio I do should be low intensity so that my heart rate is in the fat burning zone: Not necessarily. Although it's true that a higher percentage of fat is burned in the low intensity zone, you won't get the many benefits of higher intensity cardio such as intervals or plyometrics. Short bursts of high intensity cardio (High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT) burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time and also elevate your metabolism for hours after your workout. They are also better at improving your cardiovascular health. After you do interval training for awhile, you'll be faster and have a lower resting heart rate. Not bad for 20 minutes of cardio! HIIT can be performed on the treadmill, running outside, on the elliptical, a stationary bike or a rowing machine. Plyometrics or jump training is another form of cardio that gets your metabolism revving. Or try running stairs or hills. You can still do one day a week of slower, lower intensity cardio but try adding some shorter, higher intensity workouts as well.
- Lifting lower weights for high reps will get me toned: This is probably the number one myth among women. I often see women at the gym using very light weights and doing rep after rep. When they're done, they don't look fatigued at all. Lifting light weights for many reps can build muscular endurance but does little to increase your strength. In order to increase muscle strength you need to lift heavy weights for fewer reps. Only be stressing the muscle and then resting it and providing it with nutrition will you get stronger. And more muscle mass is desirable for many reasons. You'll feel stronger, your metabolism will be higher at rest, and you'll look better. Aim for a weight heavy enough to complete 10-12 reps in good form. When you finish, you should feel like you can't do one more rep. Do that 3 times for each exercise with about 45 seconds of rest in between. See what happens.
- Lifting heavy weights will bulk me up too much: Women are often concerned that they'll start to look like men if they lift heavy weights. Thankfully, this isn't possible. We women lack enough testosterone to truly build large muscles. Instead, we'll just get smaller and leaner, which is just what you want, right? So put down those light weights and start training heavier for the best results.
- To lose weight, the more I workout the better: Okay, so now you've discovered weight training and interval cardio workouts. In order to lose weight quickly, you should work out hard every day, right? Well, maybe not. You see, muscle grows at rest, not while you're actually lifting weights. If you don't allow your body to rest you won't get stronger and you'll probably start showing signs of over training (fatigue, lack of hunger, inability to sleep). Instead, you should allow about 48 hours of rest between training days for each body part. If you do a leg workout on Monday, wait until at least Wednesday to do one again. I like to work out 6 days a week in the following pattern: Legs, Upper Body, Cardio, Legs, Upper Body, Cardio, Complete Rest. This works well for me but try some different schedules and see what you like.
- I need to join a gym in order to lift weights: Some women think that they can't get the benefits of resistance training unless they belong to a gym and have access to all of those weight machines. Although it's nice to get to a gym for the variety of equipment, it's certainly not necessary. It's very easy and inexpensive to set up a small gym in your home. Body weight exercises like push-ups and pull-ups require little to no equipment. If you purchase free weights in various sizes, a bench, and a ball, you can do almost any exercise in the comfort and privacy of your home. There are many resources to help you put together a routine and videos online to teach proper form. No trainer required!
- Eating as little as possible is the key to losing weight: Okay, this isn't really a workout myth but I had to add it in anyway because it's so important. Once you start weight training, your appetite will increase. This is your body's way of saying that you need nutrition to help your muscles recover and grow and it's actually a good thing. After weight training, you should try to have a protein shake within about 30 minutes. Whey protein powder mixed with frozen blueberries or half a banana will do wonders for muscle recovery. If your goal is to build muscle, you should try to eat 200-300 more calories than your body requires to maintain it's weight on lifting days. You can't get stronger while in a calorie deficit. To drop fat, you can cycle your calories by dropping them into a deficit mode for a few days followed by a day or two of higher calories.
Putting it All Together
So there you go. If you change the way you workout, you can change your body for the better. Be patient and you'll see results if you combine weight training, cardio, and proper nutrition.
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